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Craft Guild's Annual Guildmote

The Craft Guild of Traditional Bowyers and Fletchers largely does what we as livery companies were doing in the 14th century: setting standards for makers of longbows and arrows, and operating rigorous tests of quality before accepance of a member as a master of the craft. Today the Craft Guild is warmly supported by both the Bowyers' and Fletchers' Companies, and about 20 masters and would-be masters of the bowmaking and arrowmaking crafts assembled for their annual Guildmote on 29 September at Ettington in rural Warwickshire.

As ever, much of the agenda was technical: this year some about standard specs for medieval arrows, but also some about expanding the Guild's remit to standardise a spec for the Viking-style wych-elm bows known as Holmegaard bows from the place in Denmark they were first discovered, and to which a number of longbow makers have begun to turn their hand. Craft Guild member Lee Ankers brought a couple he'd made: same length as a longbow, but a very different shape and construction (see photo).

Two Craft Guild members submitted full-size warbows hoping for approval as masters this year; unfortunately neither quite passed the very strict inspections, which sadly deprived us of our annual highlight of seeing warbows being test-shot in a nearby field. Nonetheless, full advice was given, and the spirit and camaraderie of the Craft Guild was strong. It was, as ever, heartening to see such total dedication to the excellence of their craft.

The main photo shows master arrowsmith Simon Stanley discussing different medieval arrowhead designs with the Craft Guild's founder and elder statesman Hugh Soar. The smaller photo shows the typical shape of a Holmegaard bow.

Tony Kench

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